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When you have a growing number of kids  with Multiple Chemical Sensitivity (MCS). When you have a growing number of kids with asthma. When you have  a growing number of kids with  allergies. When you have a growing number of children with a whole range of behavioural problems. When you have a growing number of kids suffering depression. When are we going to take children’s environmental health seriously in Australia?

With all the talk of climate change it is easy to forget that the health of the world has a direct relationship with the health of our kids. The problems of our environment cannot be simply expressed in terms of carbon. Focusing on climate change and carbon is like a doctor who is only interested in regulating your lungs despite the nasty rash all over your body! Lets be holistic about environmental health.

 Children’s environmental health is a serious issue that needs addressing NOW. The chemical stresses on a growing child’s body are immense and with ongoing health implications. This issue needs to be worked from a few angles.

1.  PARENT EDUCATION

I’m always so pleased when I see up and coming eco and healthy products on the market: stainless steel water bottles, organic baby clothes, stainless lunch boxes etc. It makes it easier for a parent that already has some chemical awareness to access appropriate alternatives. But awareness of the impacts of chemicals on children should not be only for ‘hippie’ parents or an elite educated middle class, it should be available to everyone who cares for their children. But unless you have countless hours to search the internet for snipets of information here and there it is difficult to even know where chemicals are lurking in your own house! You have to actively seek out this information like some sort of quest.

Some issues are getting coverage. For example, it is great to see Australians taking the problem of BPA seriously – but we are at least two years behind places like Canada. And even then there is little broader discussion on other impacts of plastics to childrens health. With few studies conducted in Australia, on Australian kids, we are left to decifer information coming from the USA even though our regulatory rules are different here.

There needs to be an Australian organisation that opens up discussion of  these issues for Australian parents. This is a BIG topic, the research is up and coming, we just need Australians to take more of an interest in the issues and work together. Many organisations are chipping away at this: National Toxins Network, 1000 mums making a difference, groups that  work to highlight multiple chemical sensitivity.How can we co-ordinate this better and gain funding to help a wider audience?

2.  GOVERNMENT ACTION

As we have mentioned, the buzz word is climate change and its simplistic focus on carbon and energy use. I’m not denying this is not important work but lets not get caught with our environmental blinkers on. Environmental issues go beyond carbon! Humans are the canary in the coal mine and our kids are right there on the cutting face. If we make a world which is safe for children then it is a world safe for everyone! By prioritising children’s environmental health we are making a healthier world for everyone and everything.

Lets put more pressure on our government and ensure that we are not years behind regulations that exist in America, Canada and Europe. Again, there are many good organisations out there who are overworked and underpaid highlighting these issues. How can mothers and fathers and grandparents fit into this? 

I would love to see a co-ordinated approach to tackle this problem. A huge Australian organisation that every family could rely on for pointed and informative advice. That’s the dream!

Jeddah

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Finally there is Australian information on Australian brands of sunscreen!

Find the report from Friends of the Earth Australia (FOE)  here.

The news is basically the same as what I have previously written about, that is:

1. Cover up and use sunscreen as last resort protection

2. Choose a zinc based sunscreen or refer to the current FOE list.

I was interested to note in the FOE report that the brand ‘UV natural’ comes in the red (bad) section because they did not respond to the questionaire. ‘UV natural’ is considered a low hazard on the cosmetics database, which is always the first port of call when I am selecting products. So please read through the report and find a product that suits your family – some of the OK ones are quite inexpensive and available from the supermarket!

Happy sunscreen selecting!

Jeddah

THE best Snowballs

By special request I have for you today THE BEST snowball recipe that I have yet encountered. Very chocolatey and delicious…

200g (1 1/3 cups) Almonds

30g (1/3 cup) whey protein powder or milk powder

10 -12 dates, pitted

25g (1/4 cup) desicated coconut + more for the rolling

30g (1/4 cup) sunflower seeds

40g (1/4 cup) pepitas

3 heaped tablespoons Carob

2 tablespoons rice syrup

2 heaped tablespoons tahini (hulled)

1 tablespoon vanilla extract

60-125ml (1/4 – 1/3 cup) water

FOR THE BLENDER:

Process all the ingredients together, except the water. When well mixed and mashed add enough water to form a sticky ball. Roll into walnut sized portions and roll in coconut to coat. Store in the fridge, covered for up to four weeks.

FOR THE JUICER: 

Soak almonds, pepitas and sunflower seeds in water overnight, then drain. Mix all the ingredients together, except the water. Run this mixture through the juicer using the homogenising blade. Roll into walnut sized portions and coat with coconut. Store as above.

Check out a few other recipes on http://soundearth.com.au/products.htm

Enjoy…

Jeddah

PS and disclaimer!! Since I’m not much of a photographer and also because these yummy snowballs don’t last long enough to even get a quick photo done before they are eaten, this is not really a photo of the snowballs in the recipe. It acts as a guide only!!!!!

When you are trying to live a non-toxic, environmentally friendly life there will ALWAYS be points of hipocrisy. I understand that but what does it really mean? I spend my time writing on this blog all the things we should think about when raising children in an environmentally friendly and healthy way, yet I am just a flawed person like we all are and today I write to ask your advice….

It is my darling daughters birthday coming up. She will be five and buying her a non-toxic environmentally friendly present seems impossible. In the past I have been the first to give a list of presents which children would actually like to receive on their birthday that ticks all the right boxes. Some of these have been potted plants, shaped soaps, modelling beeswax, decent pencils, healthy and tasty food items, personalised facewashers, etc etc. But none of these seem right.

I think I’m buying into the commercialisation of milestones and it is worrying. I have in fact bought her a Zoku Quick Pop Maker. It sits in the freezer and when you bring it out, it will make an ice block in less than 7 minutes. My daughters favourite food is iceblock! and this way I can make healthy versions. I can see us using this product alot, but realistically, does she need one? no. Is it environmentally friendly? no. It is made from aluminium and the stuff that freezes inside it could be anything, I have no idea. It carries a carbon debt all the way from China. So I’m calling out to you all, how much should you stick to your principles when buying your kids presents and when can you loosen up a little?

Thanks for your help!

Jeddah

Zoku Quick Pop Maker

Insect Repellent?????

Here is a ‘work in progress’ snippet from the book I am slowly piecing together! Hope it helps you at this time of year when the mossies are coming back. Man I hate mossies….

Personal Insect Repellents

Everyone hates getting bitten by mosquitoes and kids often fare the worst. My kids will easily scratch a bite until it bleeds and you can pretty much forget about a good night’s sleep. Here the chemical issue really becomes weighing up the different risks.

Mosquitoes can bring disease, such as malaria and ross river fever. While DEET is a highly effective insect repellent, it comes with its own chemical risks. While the incidences of toxic effects from DEET are relatively few, most reports of toxic DEET exposure have occurred in children under eight[i]. DEET is quickly absorbed by the skin[ii] and it is considered highly toxic. Look out for DEET on the label under the names “N”,”N-diethyl-m-toluamide”and “diethyltoluamide” and seek other alternatives where appropriate.

To minimise the use of personal insect repellents try these tips:

  • Cover up with long pants and shirts where possible. Use mosquito nets at night. 
  • Keep DEET insect repellents for times where exposure to disease-bearing insects is greatest, such as when camping in a mosquito infested area. Choose DEET combinations that are less than 10%, which should give one to two hours protection. Never use them on children under 6 months and avoid applying to children’s hands and faces. Do not allow children to apply the repellent themselves. Avoid spraying directly onto children as the vapours are easily inhaled. It is preferable to spray the clothing with the repellent before it is worn and to use a lotion on the body to minimise inhalation. Make sure to wash off the repellent when it’s use is no longer required.[iii]
  • Melaleuca oils have been tested to be as efficient at repelling mosquitoes as regular chemical insect repellents[iv]. Keep in mind that high levels of eucalyptus oil can be poisonous to children so opt for low doses of these oils in formulations and NEVER apply them undiluted to the skin.
  • Natural personal insect repellents vary in their ability to repel insects. The repelling properties of most insect repellants based on essential oils comes from it’s odour masking abilities that wear off after about 20 minutes, so not a great alternative for times when protection is essential.

… My personal philosophy is to avoid where I can, keep the doors closed properly to the house (if you ever come over you will know I’m actually a bit of a stickler to this!), and use a deet lotion when I deem it neccessary.

I’m interested to know how other people keep mossies at bay???

I’ll get back to series on minimising chemicals in the rooms of your house soon. This question came up and I thought it was a good time of year to supply a prompt reply!

Take care,

Jeddah 


[i] Which Insect Repellant is Right for Your Kids?

Healthy Child Healthy World
Friday, July 27, 2007

http://healthychild.org/blog/comments/which_insect_repellant_is_right_for_your_kids/

[ii] AMERICAN JOURNAL OF INDUSTRIAL MEDICINE 47:91–97 (2005)

Exposure of Children to Deet and

Other Topically Applied Insect Repellents

Kalapurakkal S. Menon, MBBS

and Amy E. Brown, PhD

[iii] Exposure of Children to Deet and

Other Topically Applied Insect Repellents

Kalapurakkal S. Menon, MBBS

1 and Amy E. Brown, PhD

2

[iv] Development of Melaleuca oils as effective natural-based personal

insect repellentsaen_736 40..48

Kerryn A Greive,1* John A Staton,2 Peter F Miller,3 Bryce A Peters3 and V M Jane Oppenheim1

Australian Journal of Entomology (2010) 49, 40–48

Starting Out in The Kitchen

A lot of you readers may just be starting out ridding your house of chemicals and I write this post to encourage you! The home is the place where you have most control and also the place where you spend alot of time. When looking at chemicals in your home environment for the first time it might seem a little daunting but it gets easier with time and as your knowledge grows.

Just Start! That’s the best advice.

Over the next couple of posts I’ll go through the different rooms of the house and briefly run through the kinds of things you might look for in each room.

Kitchen:

Look out for non-organic fruit and vegetables and processed foods. These may contain unwanted, toxic pesticides and chemical non-foods such as preservatives, colourings and flavours that are linked to unwanted health concerns such as ADD and developmental delays.

Avoid canned foods, you will avoid BPA that way! Opt for fresh, frozen or dried foods instead. Especially make a priority of this if you are pregnant, as the research suggests BPA causes most problems when exposure occurs in the womb.  

Under the sink you may have cleaning products that contain toxic ingredients including anything with ‘fragrance’ in the label. Fragrances are usually undisclosed ingredients that emit VOCs (Volatile Organic Compounds) which are linked to a whole host of problems from headaches and nasal irritation through to cancer.  Use bicarb soda and vinegar instead, or look for cleaning products that are biodegradable, have NO fragrance, NO ammonia and NO chlorine.

Plastic containers can leach unwanted chemicals into your foods. Avoid plastic containers and bottles and use stainless steel or glass instead.

When the chemicals from Non-stick Pans is found in a newborn’s umbilical cord, sirens should sound in our head. Ditch any non-stick pans that have scratched and replace with stainless steel. In the meantime, use on a lower temperature setting to avoid releasing the chemicals into the air.

Many water pipes contain lead so think about investing in a water filter. Only use cold water for drinks and food, heating it up on the stove instead.

Use the microwave carefully. Avoid all plastics in the microwave, use a ceramic or glass container instead to avoid unwanted chemicals from the plastic leaching into foods.

This short list should get you started in the kitchen, so till next time, take care of yourself and your families!

Jeddah

Just a quick but thought povoking post today…

Kids who have been exposed to environmental pollutants are more at risk of developing childhood diseases such as allergies and asthma. The researchers have also found that kids who have these early problems are more likely to develop adult diseases. The solution – help prevent early environmental pollutant exposures from conception. Read the whole article for more info here:

http://www.environmentalhealthnews.org/ehs/newscience/common-diseases-occur-in-patterns-not-as-isolated-conditions/

This reminded me of a tangent I’ve been meaning to post on for a while….

Dolphins accumulate POPs (Persistent Organic Pollutants, think pesticides and chemicals) in their fat cells. There is no way for these to leave the body except for when the mother makes milk for her baby, then the POPs pass through the milk to the young. I couldn’t find the exact research tonight but first born dolphins have a much higher toxic burden than subsequent children born to the same mother. There is no scientific research to back up my next train of thought but I do know alot of first borns who have many of the immune system disorders while their younger brothers and sisters remain relatively untouched. Is this your experience?

I’ld be interested to know your thoughts on this one.

Take care,

Jeddah.

UPDATE… UPDATE… UPDATE…

Here is a link which gives a description of the dolphin research I refered to above:

http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/16198673